Roseanne Liang’s Shadow in the Cloud a Blast
“Imagine how Ripley of Alien would handle a Nightmare at 20,000 Feet-style gremlin attack. Sound wild? Roseanne Liang’s female empowerment thriller delivers on that premise.” Variety’s Peter Debruge reviews the New Zealand director’s film Shadow in the Cloud, which has just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“Some films demand a willing suspension of disbelief, expecting audiences to put aside quibbles of what’s plausible, probable or even possible,” Debruge writes. “Liang’s Shadow in the Cloud parts ways with credibility altogether. This insanely entertaining high-altitude horror movie – which takes place almost entirely aboard a gremlin-infested WW2-era B-17 bomber – asks you to check your internal B.S. barometers on the runway, then takes off into murky skies, testing the limits at every turn. Hardly a minute of the movie registers as ‘realistic’, but that hardly matters, since Liang so fully commits to its over-the-top sensibility that you’ll be clutching the armrest and grinning with glee for most of the ride.
“If ever there’s been a perfect opportunity for a director to hire Stan Winston Studio to create a terrifying on-camera monster that would make us think twice about flying ever again, this was it, but Liang turns to the local digital gurus at Weta instead. The result is incredibly well-designed but never really feels like it exists in the same frame as [lead Chloë Grace] Moretz. Then again, the movie’s reality-bending tone helps there too, since audiences don’t have to believe to be freaked out.”
Liang’s first feature film, My Wedding and Other Secrets was the first theatrically released feature film made by a Chinese New Zealander, and became 2011’s highest grossing local feature film.
Original article by Peter Debruge, Variety, September 17, 2020.